In a Heartbeat

Lavish LGBT Cinema

Since Moonlight famously nabbed Best Picture at last year’s Oscars it has been a lavish year for LGBT cinema. There are no signs of quality queer short and feature films stopping any time soon. We’re celebrating that with this month’s Screening Room post sharing three films from the LGBT community.

Last year saw the release of God’s Own Country, Battle of the Sexes, BPM (Beats Per Minute) and Beach Rats. Meanwhile, transgender rapper Randa picked up the NZ on Air Best Music Video award for Turtles at the 2017 Show Me Shorts awards. The beginning of 2018 has built on the momentum with swoon-inducing Call Me By Your Name and Chilean transgender drama A Fantastic Woman winning well-deserved Oscars.

It’s not just the feature-length LGBT films getting the gongs; the following three shorts have had festival love lavished upon them, each showcasing strong voices and impressive talent. From Montreal to Florida and rural New Zealand these tales of first love, self-discovery and overcoming intolerance have a universal appeal.


In a Heartbeat

This film has such slick production values and heart-warming feels you’d think this was a Pixar short. It’s actually a senior thesis film from a pair of graduates from Florida’s Ringling College of Art and Design.

Beth David and Esteban Bravo’s short was initially a boy meets girl tale, but the two were much happier when it evolved into something they were more personally invested in. Their passion project proved so successful this wordless short gained a staggering 12million views in its first week online! Bravo is now an animation intern at Blue Sky Studio (home of the Ice Age franchise).

Kids and adults alike will be charmed by the cute comic beats, and left breathless by the kinetic animation. More importantly there’s a message of not only overcoming discrimination by others, but also overcoming the walls we build ourselves.


Tits on a Bull

Rugby is an important part of our culture and national identity here in Aotearoa, but never has the potential for twinning a rugged and romantic side been captured as well as in Tits on a Bull. The short was nominated for awards at Show Me Shorts. It also won plenty of fans on the festival circuit for good reason, it’s salt of the earth stuff and like good rugby it nails the basics and throws in a bit of flair too.

Filmmaker Tim Worrall’s choice of Kiwi character actor Roy Billing (Underbelly, Packed to the Rafters) to play aging coach Rusty was a coup. Billing delivers the rugged language with a wry smile and his honest advice to his star player is straight from the heart. But it’s Rotorua rugby player and first time actor Ngawaea Taia that steals the show. Taia was spotted by Worrall at a Thursday night touch comp. Her skills on the field lend the film authenticity – especially in the tense training sequence set to Six60’s Forever – but whether it’s bouncing off Billing or flirting with team captain Maria Walker (Top of the Lake, Mahana) she is a complete natural and we hope to see more of her.


I Like Girls

Canadian animator Diane Obosawin gathered real-life lesbian stories of first loves that she made into a graphic novel On Loving Women. In this short ‘docu-mation’ film she’s turned four of those into colourful coming-of-age vignettes, filled with moments of intoxicating first kisses, one-way crushes, accidental touches and hormonal awkwardness. This Wes Anderson-esque whimsical film won the Nelvana Grand Prize for Independent Short at the Ottawa Animation Festival and screened at Sundance and Palm Springs.

The stories are all too relatable and the stylised animation is adorable. Obosawin went for anthropomorphic bear-like creatures to represent these star-crossed lovers, and she even rotoscoped dancers to make sure the sensual love scenes were accurate. The story is enhanced by gorgeous sound design. The moments of humour will warm your heart and nostalgically take you back to your own days of awkward fumbling!